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Medication Errors: Why They Happen And What You Can Do

Revolution Law

March 25

Modern medicine has been a revolution across the world. Improving the health and lifespan of our population gives us all a chance to live longer, happier lives. The medications that some of us take are critical to those health improvements, but they can also cause serious injury if they are administered incorrectly. Australia sees about 230,000 hospitalisations each year due to medication errors. That is not only expensive for our system, it shows that errors are still a common occurrence in modern healthcare. If you or a loved one has suffered from a medication error, we want to look at what you should do to seek compensation.

What is a Medication Error?

Medication errors are the result of patients being given the wrong medication or the incorrect dose of a drug. In some cases, medication errors can also include having a drug administered at the wrong time of day. However they occur, medication errors have the potential to do serious damage to your health, causing issues like:

  • Dangerous overdoses
  • Harmful drug interactions
  • Issues with pregnancies causing harm to unborn babies
  • Issues and injuries resulting from the improper management of chronic illnesses
  • Damage to your body and organs

How do Medication Errors Occur?

While doctors and medical practitioners go to great lengths to ensure their patients receive the proper treatment, mistakes still happen. A 1995 study from Harvard University found that nurses intercepted approximately 86% of all medication errors in hospitals, but they are unable to prevent them entirely. Some of the most common sources of medication errors are:

  • Healthcare providers. Doctors, nurses and pharmacists may all play a role in administering medication. In most cases, errors are detected and prevented. But, due to factors like misdiagnoses, misdosage, dispensing errors and common mistakes, healthcare professionals can be responsible for medication errors.
  • Patients. Patients can often be the cause of their own errors. Where dosage and timing information is communicated poorly, or if there are language and understanding barriers, patients may take the wrong medication or the wrong doses.
  • Pharmacy. Many medications feature similar labelling and designs, increasing the risk of common errors by the dispensing pharmacist. In most cases, pharmacies have checks in place to prevent errors, but issues may still occur.
  • Dosing problems. Children and some adults can be harmed by incorrect doses that are unsuitable for their size or age group.

Preventing Medication Errors

Your doctor and pharmacist will do their best to ensure the medication you receive is safe and appropriate for your condition. But patients should look after their own health too. We should all make an effort to stay on top of our own medications and the medications of loved ones. Be sure that you have all the information you need, including the name of the medication, the prescribed dose, how long you should be taking the medicine and what to do if you miss a dose. Always administer medications exactly as prescribed by the doctor, and be sure to check the box for proper storage instructions.

If you are ever concerned about a prescription, dosage or the side effects you are experiencing, contact your doctor as soon as possible. Medication errors can have serious consequences and you may require immediate attention.

Can I Claim Compensation for a Medication Error?

Yes, in some cases you may have a medical negligence claim for medication errors. To make a claim against your doctor or a healthcare practitioner, you need to show:

  • That your treatment did not meet reasonable Australian standards, and;
  • That your treatment resulted in some physical or psychological harm or injury, and;
  • That the harm you suffered as a direct result of your doctor’s negligence.

In Queensland, there is a 3-year time limit to claim compensation from a doctor. The time limit begins from the date of the medication error, or, in some cases, it may begin from the date the error or its effects were discovered. If you have been affected by a medication error then it is important to seek legal advice as soon as possible.

Have You Suffered From a Medication Error? Contact Your Revolution Lawyer Today

While modern medications are a miracle for many, errors can cause significant physical, psychological and financial harm. If you have been affected by a medication error, it is important to seek legal advice as soon as possible. Claiming compensation for medical negligence can be a complex process. Your local Revolution Lawyer will be able to assess your case and determine whether you are entitled to make a claim against your doctor or healthcare provider. We will do the hard work of making sure you have access to the records and professional testimony you need to pursue your medical negligence claim. Speak to your Revolution Law team today for expert advice on medication errors.


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